Nyx Book Reviews

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Literary Fiction Mini-Reviews #2

Title: The Stranger
Author: Albert Camus
First Publication: 1942

The Stranger is a short novel written by Nobel-prize winner essentialist-but-not-really Camus. There are a few things you should know about this book. One, it has plenty of philosophical meaning and such, but if you’re not interested in that, the plot isn’t very strong. Two, if you are interested in what Camus has to say, The Stranger is interesting and pretty readable. And three: Camus is very interested in absurdism and the meaning of life. Overall The Stranger is pretty depressing.

Somehow I actually became pretty interested in the main character Meursault, despite the distant and detached narration. Sometimes, especially near the end, Camus’ philosophical ideas overshadow his literary ones. There is not much time to get bored though, since The Stranger has the length of a weighty novella.

Rating: 3 Stars

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Title: The Essential Rilke
Author: Rainer Maria Rilke
First Publication (poems): 1894-1926

The Essential Rilke is a lovely edition that has the German and English translation side by side. This really helped me to get at least a basic understanding of the poems, since when the English was particularly dense, I could also check out the sentence in German. Rilke is a very visual poet, using vivid images or adapting well-known myths. I can’t say I understood even a third of all that he was doing, but I really enjoyed many of his poems.

Rating: 4 Stars

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Title: Atonement
Author: Ian McEwan
First Publication: 2001

Atonement was one big pile of meh. The characters are bland, shallow, and boring. The plot moves with about the speed of a turtle pulling a truck. The writing is self-indulgent and convoluted. Somehow I actually quite liked the movie, but the novel counterpart was horrible. There’s nothing in Atonement to keep me interested, to grab me or keep me reading. The last fifty pages were hell to get through. The worst about it is that the entire point, the crux, the climax of the book, happens in the last five pages. Where the movie made an impact, in the book the climax just fizzles and dies.

Rating: 1 Star

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